Sleepy in Spain

My conference is wrapping up and tomorrow begins my two-day leisure time in Madrid. Jet lag has been wicked and consequently I'm averaging ~4 hours sleep each night. This is making me inordinately cranky. No help are two major projects stateside at work that are characterized by useless collegeues who are really ignorant and helpless. 10 days prior to a deadline is not the time to suggest getting together to review draft materials, especially when there have been bi-weekly meetings since APRIL! It leaves me wondering how some people manage to get to work in the morning, because they don't seem to have a clue how to do anything at the office. Stupid beaurcrats.
See, that's crankiness. But how would you feel returning the room each night after midnight and having your body tell you that for the first time in the day it's actually awake and ready to do some e-mails?
Exacerbating the problem is that the restaurants in Spain don't even open until 9 pm. (Even then we are the first ones seated, and sometimes not served until 10 pm.) Nothing like a group of loud Americans in a quiet, empty restaurant. Suffice to say there has been some glaring glances directed my group's way from the natives.
The food has fallen a little short of expectations. Is this because I've been raised in America tasting Spanish foods (paella, for example) that is not really Spanish, but the Americanized equivalent? Like the burritos from Chipotle, that taste nothing like the real things from the Mexican tacquerias in our neighborhood?
Oddly, most of the appetizers have been delicious which reinforces the notion that the best food Spanish culture has to offer the world is tapas - a dinner of appetizers!
We did have a flamenco dinner one night which was quite fun. But much to my chagrin, my jabbering co-workers were shushed by others in the restaurant.

Never Been to Spain

Ironically, that Three Dog Night song shuffled through in my ITunes this morning while I worked from home. Today, well tomorrow with flight times, that changes.
Me voy a Espana hoy!
Hasta la vista.

Temporary Decorating

Inspired by the ideas from one of my favorite websites,, I experimented with Blik, temporary wall art. It did indeed inspire the reflection that with as settled as we're getting in our apartment, we might as well buy it.

The temporary wallart, which is essentially a decal, offered a small escape from our monotonous white walls. (The first thing I'd do if we purchased would be to speed down to Home Depot or Lowes and pick up a handful of paint swatches to give some color to our interior.)

I hung a two-dimensional chandelier in our bathroom. I like how this gives some intention the black & white tile. (Like if we had had the choice we might have picked those tiles.) Above the tub, this colorful flocking. As you can see, I had to discipline myself not to get carried away and stick decals up all over.

For more inspiration for living in small spaces you might not own, I recommend "Small Spaces, Big Style" on HGTV. (Our new Tivo figured out I like this show pretty quickly.) There are no "great rooms" on this show.

It's fairly typical on each episode that some resident, wearing their quirky eyeglasses and v-neck sweater, pulls a small knob on the wall, explaining, "And this is the closet where I sleep," and voila, a bed tumbles from the wall. Last episode I saw a bed that was cantilevered from the wall, and lit with white lights from underneath.

If You Can Fry It, It's at the Fair

You could have rolled me home from this week's business trip to Dallas. For Tuesday's breakfast: a half cup of fruit, but unless you wanted to spend the next four hours in the hotel conference room hungry, the other offerings were eggs, sausage and bacon. Lunch was pancake-size hamburgers, onion rings and fries. And for dinner, they dispatched us off to the Texas State Fair with a clutch of food tickets.
It's ironic that I'd never ever been to a State Fair in my life and now I've been to two (in two different states!) in the past three years. Fried fish. Fried chicken. Fried okra. Fried twinkies. Fried Snickers. Fried marshmellows. Fried guacamole. Fried avocados. Fried Coke. (I don't know how that last one works out chemically, the whole liquid to solid alchemy must be the magic of the state fair.)
I had an apparently famous Fletcher's "Corny Dog," and corn on the cob (sounds healthy, until I tell you that it was dipped in butter!)
It may have been a blessing to have come under the positive exercise-oriented glow of my grade-school BFF, Andra for dinner the night before. And for an omega-fatty acid full dinner of sushi no less. I had not seen Andra since we were... maybe 10 years old? (You'll see below that we go back to the early 80's.)
But as I made notice of the little details of her life it was a little spooky: Hello Kitty charm on her car's rear-view mirror. Hello Kitty charm on my cell phone. Economist on her coffee table. Economist on my coffee table back at home. Ann Taylor blouse on her, matching my Ann Taylor blouse. Her reflecting what it's like to be one of the few women in a business leadership class. My sharing what it's like to have my boss' boss' boss draw sweeping generalizations about women (and men) in business. And then sharing a collective "what's up with that? We are SO capable!" sentiment.
Too bad that Texas is not closer to Illinois so that I could see Andra again sooner.
Too bad that I am now feeling like my tummy has swollen so much that it might begin to cover the geographical gap. Andra, if you look out your window tomorrow morning and wonder whether that mountain on the horizon was there last night when you went to sleep... that's actually my navel.
Too. much. food. at. the. Fair.

Little Things I Like

It looks like something that could be currently folded and stored in the trunk in my storage unit, inherited from my mother's side of the family, but this little embroidered towel on Etsy is so pretty and cute. It doesn't fit with our kitchen decor, and even if the colors are right for the bathroom, it couldn't disguise it's true identity as a dishtowel. *Sigh*
It's a little thing I like though, and maybe someday if I am rich and have a little beach cottage it would be nice in the country-style kitchen.

Practicing Signing My New Name

I promised myself that in the countdown to our wedding this blog would not turn into the Bridezilla Bulletin. And so far it hasn't, and as yet I don't think I've been a monster. Yay.
Ok, I was a little short with the bridal gown store when the dress they promised would arrive on Sept 1 didn't come in until October 8th. But knowing that they still stood between me and possession of my gown, I backtracked with a sweet tone, explaining that I was certain (cheerful giggle) that they dealt with many nervous brides... and (changing to my firm corporate warrior voice:) I'd appreciate it if they'd call me as soon as the dress arrived. I had my first dress fitting today.
Tonight I've been cruising my iTunes library looking for possible songs to add to our wedding reception playlist. (Wedding reception to take place next spring, because I love most of my family members too much to invite them to come to Chicago in the winter.) There are two revelations I've had during this exercise:
1. I have more music than I will ever listen to. 11.2 days worth of music. Where was digital music when I was in college when I was listening to the same rotation of 5 CDs over and over again? (And the fact that the stereo had an auto replay for these CDs was a real bragging right.) Dad would have certainly preferred driving one laptop across Pennsylvania to Ohio, instead of my heavy box of CDs, crammed into the full car trunk with my other college supplies.
2. There are a number of songs that are really not right for weddings. The Divorce Song by Liz Phair is one. ITunes ironically then advanced to play Evil by Interpol right after that. The title is worse than the lyrics, which make little to no sense. Other songs deceive you with their spirited rollicking melodies (Fool in the Rain, by OAR & Robert Randolph), but it turns out the words are all about breaking up.
And if you promised you'd love so completely
And you said you would always be true
You swore that you would never leave me, baby:
What ever happened to you?
Thinking of a wedding playlist means critically listening the lyrics. With my over-60-year-old aunts and uncles in the audience, will they be offended by Timbaland's lyrics? (This begs the question, at this age, is the "Parental Warning" a caution against playing the song for people who are your parent's age?)
One of the planning details I have also eschewed (in addition to finding a live DJ - substituted for by an iPod) is the elaborate cake. (A friend reported that he paid nearly $2,000 for his wedding cake! Yikes.) But after stumbling across a wedding cake topper website it seems like I might be missing out on quite a number of fanciful wedding cake topper options. All further wedding blog posts will feature another extraordinary wedding cake topper. First in the series featured above. This little fellow seems be struggling under the weight of his betrothed. (They get a lot weirder, trust me.)

Toast Test

It's not really that hard, but making French Toast falls under the category of one of the "simplest things I've never really learned how to do." (Driving stick shift is another.)
This weekend we were visiting friends and family in C'bus, and enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast, complete with thick yummy slices of french toast. We have declared this friend's house our new favorite bed & breakfast in Ohio. Or even just breakfast, if we don't sleep there, because the award for best napping nook went to Jason's mom's living room couches where all three of us fell asleep after a day of running from grandparent to grandparent's house in the heat of this weird October.
It was Jason's mother who we had to call the first and last time that Jason and I felt the whim to make french toast. We had eggs in the bowl and knew the bread had to be dipped in it and then put on the skillet, but something (or things) were missing. (Milk, vanilla, cinnamon.)
I blame this lack of domestic knowledge for going to a high school that taught classes like "Concepts of Justice" instead of Home Ec. I don't think I'd even make it for the GED version of Home Ec right now. As for Jason, he did have Home Ec, but must not have been paying much attention.
When did french toast become Texas toast, by the way? I've noticed this is another name for garlic bread too. Was this another result of the post 9-11 jingoism and John Kerry hating? Was it revised when french fries also became freedom fries?

"Fall"ing for the Marketing

After I'd placed both caramel apples and apple cider in our shopping cart, Jason griped, "I can't believe how much you're falling for the autumn marketing! Geez." I bit my tongue and hoped he wouldn't remember the mums I'd also bought and installed on our deck two days before. And the blazing orange silk chrysanthemum wreath I'd bought at Target three weeks ago.
I love fall. I used to be proud to secretly consider myself a child of the autumn, born in the fall season. Until I realized (and to my shame, this epiphany only occurred within the last five years) that my birthday really falls within the summer.
Autumn is too brief and beautiful. Crisp days. Vividly colored leaves. And all spent looking over your shoulder at winter chasing you down with its chilly temperatures.
I'm getting mini pumpkins soon too. They'll look very cute on our mantle. (Last year I learned that pumpkins on the deck is not feasible. The critters get to them and take little nibbles. I try to convince myself that "critters" means squirrels, but it's also possible that they're rats. ICK. But appropriately scary for Halloween, no?)
Of course, it'd be a little easier to get into the fall spirit, and prepare myself for the dreadful coming of winter, if it weren't like freaking 80 degrees everyday around here! Not to complain, I LOVE Indian Summers, but can it be considered an Indian Summer, if it never actually got cold? Very confusing. I don't know when to begin my grieving for warm weather, and start the greedy hoarding of days outside in warmish weather; it just seems like it's going to keep coming. I don't want to miss the wholehearted enjoyment of the summer days by starting my regretful yearning too soon, but it seems like it should be colder. Mother Nature is toying with me! (I shake my fist at her.)

(Yes, this was just a post about the weather.)

Someone Who Makes Me Laugh

It was predictable, in my former days, that every other profile would include the request, under the "who I'm interested in meeting" banner, that the desired match be "someone who makes me laugh." I was probably guilty too, as I seem to remember my profile mentioning something about a sense of humor.
So, I do enjoy the moments where I catch myself laughing at something that Jason has done. Like the purchasing decision behind our new iron.
Our old iron was beginning to turn on us in its old age. Just like when you visit someone's house and move to pet their cat, before being cautioned, "She's old... and mean," as the mangy cat sneers at you and lifts a taloned paw, the old iron was leaving weird rusty water spots on shirts, inevitably when it was already late and I wanted to go to bed with the reassurance that the next day's outfit was ready and waiting for the morning. Or for Jason, when he was in his sprint to catch the morning's train.
I had mused aloud about wanting a new iron. It should have a retractable cord. It should also be automatic shut-off, offering the same security against fire hazards that a clean, pressed outfit hanging on the door knob of the closet offers against sleepless nights and morning-preparedness anxiety.
Seeking to be ultra efficient in our Target shopping the other weekend, Jason and I split up to grab items on the shopping list. I picked up garbage bags. On the way to grab cat treats, Jason found himself in the iron aisle to cross another needed item off the list. We proceeded to check out and on the way home.
As I unpacked the new iron to use it for the first time, I laughed aloud. Jason appeared to have bought the Camaro of irons. Red with a shiny chrome body. This was very possibly *the* iron meant to appeal to the male buyer. It's called "The Shark." A domestic tool, named for a carnivorous fish.* But I could not argue with his choice. He had thoughtfully remembered, 1. retractable cord, 2. auto shut-off. This covered the "must be considerate" part of the match profile.

* All the more funny as Jason has asked me at least twice if I think it will be safe for us to swim in Hawaii, since the waters have more sharks than anywhere else in the United States.

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